Phi Theta Kappa: Meeting People and Making Connections

Kevin Abke and Michaela Korges

Phi Theta Kappa is a nationally recognized honors society whose mission, according to their website, “is to recognize academic achievement of college students.”

Some think it is a fraternity or a sorority when they hear the Greek letters, but it is actually more of an honors society. In order to become an official member, a student must have a 3.5 GPA and twelve completed credits. What’s in it for students?  Benefits of joining include exclusive scholarships and the prestige on a resume that has no equal.

Here at Central Arizona College, the Alpha Theta Delta chapter seeks to recognize some of the brightest students at our college. PTK members hold meetings, complete academic writing projects, and volunteer at every opportunity. Even those who haven’t met the requirements yet can participate in events and meetings with PTK members.

All of the activities and meetings at CAC’s chapter are run by our hard-working advisors. Heather Moulton and Maren Wilson have both been a part of PTK for over ten years, and Sandra Rath has been an advisor for almost a year.  Here is what they think about the organization.

What do you like best about PTK?

Maren Wilson – I can’t say just one thing:  scholarships available for Phi Theta Kappans, members and officers growing, friendships.

Sandra Rath – Working alongside motivated and determined students. Do not get me wrong, they still procrastinate like any other student, but the creativity and quality of work that comes out of that group has been incredible to witness. My PTK students crack me up, too. They really are funny. For that matter, the other advisors are also hilarious, as well. Bottom-line: PTK is made up of incredibly smart people who know when to have fun while they participate in meaningful work and volunteer efforts. It is the best of both worlds.

Heather Moulton – I like seeing the students succeed. So many students have come in lacking confidence or unsure of what PTK is, but then they run for office or attend a conference, and something changes. They make connections, meet new people, become leaders, and gain confidence.

What advice would you give to a person thinking about joining PTK?

Maren Wilson – Join, you’ll be glad you did!  There are scholarships that are just for Phi Theta Kappans, opportunities to develop leadership skills, fun events to go to, service opportunities, and more.  Even if you do not get involved with PTK after joining, membership will make you eligible for some transfer scholarships and various local business discounts.

Sandra Rath – PTK is a great opportunity to connect with others who share similar values about education and community involvement. College is about earning an education, but it is also about meeting people and making connections. Those who feel the most positive about their college experiences are the ones who have chosen to join clubs and organizations during their time on campus. PTK is a place to make friends and contacts, but it’s also a place to do meaningful work for our campus and the community at large, while also providing opportunities to earn scholarship money for when they move on to the four-year institution. My advice: JOIN – you won’t regret it.

Heather Moulton – Think Nike and “Just Do It!” For a one-time fee, students can get thousands of dollars in transfer scholarships to state and private universities in Arizona and across the nation. Active members gain real-world life experiences and make friends and connections that will last a lifetime. PTK is a fun and nurturing organization filled with all the smartest people on campus (and the coolest advisors, obviously); who wouldn’t want to join?

A pleasant memory (if you want to share)

Sandra Rath – During one meeting not long ago, we finished discussing everything on our agenda for the day, and while it was technically time to end the meeting, no one left. Everyone continued to sit around the table sharing stories about what was going on in their current classes, funny memories from their former classes, discussing their plans, and encouraging one another that they would survive all the final projects coming up. As I sat there listening, I thought: this is community right here. There is just nothing better.

Heather Moulton – I have so many! Attending conferences with students creates the most memories, whether it’s local and we’re co-hosting (stressful but rewarding) or international and I’m touring around D.C. with PTKers who had never been out of state; it’s all gratifying.

What is the student’s perspective?  Sean Gardiner, a PTK member at the San Tan Campus, says, “PTK to me is a personal community.  It has helped me build personal confidence in my academic studies as well as develop a larger network of companions who are students enrolled at CAC and many other community colleges as well.”

So, as Mauren Wilson put it, “Join Phi Theta Kapa – you’ll be glad you did!”